Standing, Kneeling, and Doing Deep Work


Before you report me for having pornographic content, allow me to offer you some context.   I am a month into a disaster science and management Ph.D. program and there have been hurricanes, flooding, torrential downpours, earthquakes and people dying all around the world.   The man who was elected president is close to inciting nuclear war with the North Korean dictator and cannot seem to control his impulses although his more professional staff have tried.   Between hearing his speech to the United Nations General Assembly and the twitter war with the NFL, Stephen Curry, and Rocket Man, I have been very distracted.  This weekend, he said so much more about standing or kneeling during the national anthem and remained silent about the destruction in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

As a Veteran, I served so we all could have the choice.  I served so we could protest against institutional racism and injustice.   I served so everyone had the right to stand up, kneel, or sit down during the anthem or whenever. I served so you could vote for whomever you chose, even if you picked someone who would not know patriotism if it slapped him in the face.

You’re probably wondering what standing up for the anthem and deep work have in common.   Yes, I am distracted but no I have not lost my sights on the long-term goal.  That is the true purpose of committing to a doctoral program.  I recognize how much there is to be done and how much I could lose if I allow myself to get distracted by every shiny tweet or impulsive post.   As a doctoral student, armed with twitter, Face Book, and LinkedIn, I have some serious distraction to fight.  Weaning myself off Huffington Post and Morning Report is just a start.  In his latest book, Deep Work, Cal Newport writes that “deep work is the ability to focus without distraction.”     To be clear, Cal Newport’s methods will serve me well beyond graduate school, but most importantly, it served to remind me that we all should determine what we stand for and what we want to accomplish with our lives.